really awful
Crashes / Fires:
10 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
33,255 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2011 Toyota Prius brakes problems

brakes problem

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2011 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #42

Aug 102012


  • miles


The vehicle was parked in a typical supermarket parking lot during a normal sunny day. The vehicle starts normally as the brakes are depressed. After putting the car in reverse, the brake pedal pushed back as the vehicle starts to back up. The brake felt very stiff and would not depress until the foot is lifted and re-stepped on it. It has happened about a dozen times in the last 3.5 years, no specific place or time. Was not able to be duplicated at the dealerships. The dealer said it's safety feature when you step on the brakes too hard, it locks up as in a hand brake. However, the lockup I experienced is different and only happens occasionally during reverse where the brakes is not stopping the car from moving. Seems to occur more often on sloped surfaces than flat, but cannot duplicate as it happens randomly, usually with multiple passengers in the car. This can be a real safety hazard if some one is behind the vehicle.

- Temple City, CA, USA

problem #41

Jun 282015


  • 105,234 miles
My wife was driving our 2011 Prius during stop and go traffic. She said the car just took off on her on it's own she tried to brake but it wouldn't stop. It crashed into the motorhome that I was driving. The air bags never deployed. The car was totaled due to the extensive damage.

- Arlington, WA, USA

problem #40

Apr 092012


  • 2,500 miles
This has happened multiple times since I purchased this vehicle. The first time this happened was at 2,500 miles. While applying brakes on a rough road or when crossing a pot hole, cracked road, or bridge joint the brakes fail momentarily allowing the car to lurch forward. It his happens regardless of the speed. I could be traveling at 15 or 50 mph and the brakes will fail and lurch forward. I purchased the Prius new in 2011 and have told the service folks at Toyota about the problem and they look at the vehicle and are not able to find a reason for this brake failure. This is dangerous. I have to make sure I start braking a good distance from a car in front of me as I am afraid this defect will cause an accident. If I have to brake suddenly and am driving over any road that is not smooth my brakes fail and lurch forward. How many people need to get injured or die before Toyota fixes this defect?

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #39

May 272015


  • 41,000 miles


We have been experiencing braking abnormalities for 1-2 months, and when our brake malfunction light came on we had it checked out. Initially, about 1 month ago, the Toyota dealer's service dept. Could not detect an issue, so simply reset the computer. But, again, the malfunction light returned and again, we returned the car to the service dept. On this occasion, they told us that nitrogen gas has leaked from the accumulator into the braking system. Research indicates that this is a similar problem experienced by 2010 Prius owners. We would love for Toyota to fix this issue rather than us cover the $5000 for brake system replacement.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #38

Nov 252011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 1,500 miles
While applying brakes on a rough road or when crossing a pot hole, cracked road, or bridge joint the brakes fail momentarily allowing the car to lurch forward. I purchased the Prius new in 2011 and have told the service folks at Toyota about the problem and they always tell me it?S normal for a Prius without noting anything in my file. I am here to tell you that the Prius brake design is faulty and the NHTSA should be investigating!

- Rio Rancho, NM, USA

problem #37

Jul 232014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
The Prius failed to stop when brakes were applied; instead the car did a lurch when the brakes were applied and then accelerated forward causing a 4 car collision; luckily no one was injured. Made Toyota aware of the problem, when they investigated they of course found nothing wrong with the vehicle's brake system.

- Skokie, IL, USA

problem #36

Sep 172014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 87,800 miles


The ABS braking system in this car is overly sensitive. This does not happen often, but it has happened enough over the past three years that I can clearly predict when it will happen again. If you are slowing down moderately say for a traffic light, on a dry road, but one that is in need of repaving (no pot holes, but just a rough surface), and if you are on a road that is going slightly downhill, the ABS braking system kicks in without a need. This causes your foot to sink briefly to the floor (on the brake pedal) and give the feeling of a loss of braking for a few seconds. The brake pads are fine (even with such high mileage, I still have over 70% of the original brake pads left). I have brought this to the attention of my Toyota dealer, who says everything is fine. The scenario described above might only happen once every few weeks, but both my wife and I have had this happen numerous times. I believe it is a software issue, perhaps related to overly sensitive sensors, perhaps in the rear of the car.

- Ambler, PA, USA

problem #35

Jul 232014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 31,000 miles
When I applied the brakes while going over a pothole or curb, the vehicle lurched forward. This has happened twice so far and I've only owned the car for a few months.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #34

Jun 242014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 36,121 miles
Numerous times when trying to stop, the vehicle would loss control of the braking when going over even the smallest of bumps. A few times even the traction control light would luminate when this happened. It also appeared that the vehicle would accelerate just slightly during this braking rather than slowing down. The best way to describe how the vehicle felt, is as if it was "hydroplaning", there was not control over the steering or braking. This happens every time the vehicle goes over any type of bumps, or potholes. I have children and this is definitely a concern. I have been told this is "normal", however I fear it is definitely a safety concern.

- Wilkes Barre, PA, USA

problem #33

Mar 272014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 29,100 miles
While pulling into a parking slot in a parking lot, which was on a slope, I applied the foot brake without any response whatsoever. The vehicle gained enough speed to jump the small stop-curb and hit a concrete wall next to it. The damage to the front of the car was just over $4000. I thought I had missed the pedal. On June 12th and 15th, I had two more incidents of the brake pedal going all the way to the floor while either at slow speed or stopped. My dealer says it was a problem on the 2010, but he has not seen it on a 2011. My wife now refuses to drive the car.

- Anacortes, WA, USA

problem #32

Jun 052014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 41,500 miles


The Prius brakes do not work well under certain conditions. When I slow down the vehicle and am over uneven pavement or a pothole, the car feels like it lurches forward for a split second. My reaction is one of panic and to press harder on the brakes. My wife and I have experienced this four times since we have owned the vehicle. We feel very unsure of the brakes and worry for bicyclists or pedestrians.

- Old Town, ME, USA

problem #31

Jul 202011


  • 20 miles
From the very start of my owner ship of a new Toyota Prius, the car started lunging when I would try to stop. It has continued to do so and I finally asked a friend who also has a Prius if she has that problem too and she does. I don't know what to do but I fear the safety of a car that lunges when you are trying to brake. Thank you for your time. Updated 11/24/2014

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #30

Aug 062013


  • 25,456 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while braking on an incline, an abnormal metal-on-metal noise was heard from the vehicle. The noise would become louder when there was only one occupant in the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer fives times however, they were unable to duplicate or diagnose the problem. The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 25,456.

- Reston, VA, USA

problem #29

Apr 012014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
When I am coming to stop at an intersection on a bumpy or uneven or snow covered road and apply the brakes the car lurches forward instead of stopping. I am lucky I haven't hit a car in front of me or a person crossing at the intersection. I have been reading the other complaints and they describe exactly what is happening with my car. I haven't yet tried to get this fixed, but I am starting today.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #28

Mar 082012


  • 25,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Toyota Prius. The contact stated while driving approximately 20 mph on uneven road surfaces, the vehicle began to vibrate in a bouncing motion, when the brake pedal was depressed. The failure recurred four times. The vehicle had not been diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 25,000.

- Castanda , PA, USA

problem #27

Apr 112012


  • 300 miles
The brakes total disengage when applied on bumpy roads then work again after getting to a smooth surface. I reported this to the service manager at the new car owner meeting at Toyota and was told that I just have to get use to antilock brakes. I haven't gotten into an accident yet but I had several close calls almost hitting cars in front of me on bumpy roads. Has there been a recall for this problem?

- Oakhurst, NJ, USA

problem #26

May 172012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 15,000 miles
My car hesitates to stop or slow down when brakes are applied driving over a pothole, slick surface, metal road cover or a manhole. Instead of slowing/stopping, the car seems to eject forward. I took it to the dealership where I bought my car and drove with a service tech and he said in over 20 years of his experience, he's never seen this. I tried to explain that this car (and technology with regenerative braking) is only 3 years old, but he didn't seem to buy my complaint, nor were we able to reproduce this issue when I drove with a technician around the block. There are several online discussions regarding this particular issue : money.cnn.com/2010/02/04/autos/prius_timeline/"wpmp_switcher=mobile www.eetimes.com/author.asp"section_id=30&doc_id=1284377.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #25

Dec 082013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 19,000 miles
On two separate occasions in December of 2013, with two different drivers, the brakes on our 2011 model year Prius (purchased new in February 2012), failed to engage. The first time occurred when I was driving (with one of my teenagers in the car with me), and the second time occurred when my wife was driving the car alone. In both instance we pressed the brake pedal, but the brakes failed to respond at all. Although it is winter, the roads were clear, and the car did not slow down at all when the brakes were pressed / applied. Interestingly, after 30 - 60 seconds, the brake function restored itself. Since December the car has been at the shop at the Toyota dealership where we purchased the car. The shop has been unable to identify the source of the problem. Additionally, the shop indicated they contacted Toyota mechanics and service support staff to help identify and fix the problem, but Toyota claimed they never heard of such a problem or anything like it. Moreover, Toyota refuses to make any repairs or change any parts (even though the car is still under warranty). Yet, this past Wednesday (February 12, 2014), Toyota announced a recall on rav4's and other models for a software problem that causes the anti-brakes to intermittently turn off. This is particularly troubling, given Toyota's claim that they never heard of anything like this and did not know what to fix. Further, Toyota announced a recall on the Prius itself, for a software problem that might cause the car to turn off completely while driving. Clearly, Toyota has a problem with its software in a number of vehicles. At this point, all I have received is corporate double talk, and I urge the NHTSA to pursue this matter as vigorously as possible.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #24

Jan 242013


  • 35,000 miles
Car lurches forward when brakes are applied on bumpy or uneven surfaces, as well as slippery surfaces such as metal plates that you sometimes find covering city streets under construction. On ice, when applied forcefully, no braking action occurs whatsoever, even when pumped or release and reapplied. In Jan 2013, car slid more than 150' on a lightly snowy road into a ditch. My sense is anti-lock brakes are defective, but it could be some other computer override that kicks in. When stopping for a traffic light on a bumpy road, or over one of those construction plates, it's scary, and I feel lucky I haven't hit anyone.

- Davidsonville, MD, USA

problem #23

Oct 162013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 79,900 miles
My son was driving my Prius 2011 - I was in the passenger seat. We were sitting at a red light and he had his foot on the brake. Suddenly the car surged ahead although my son still had his foot on the brake. Immediately lights came up on the dash - brake, ABS? and picture of a car with skid marks. The brakes were then spongy, there sometimes and then not. I have it in the Toyota shop now and the repairs have been estimated to be $4,440. I did not buy the extended warranty. We met with the dealer and they were no help. I called Toyota and they offered me $1,500 after I pay the bill and told me it could take up to 8 weeks for me to receive payment.

- Park River, ND, USA

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